By April Jasper, OD, FAAO
Health awareness months are fantastic opportunities to help spread the message about a health issue. As February approaches with its focus on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), more Americans will learn about this condition that affects more than 2 million people in the U.S. and is expected to double by 2050, according to the National Institutes of Health.
But of course, AMD is a serious health concern beyond the month of February, and that’s why it’s important to establish a protocol that keeps each member of our team consistent in our conversations and prescriptions. AMD is one of those eye diseases that we all watch for every day, with every patient. Our patients expect us to focus not just on early detection but also on prevention where possible.
Ocular nutrition is an area where we can help patients be proactive. Here are some ways our protocols and processes have helped us achieve financial success as well as patient wellness and happiness.
EDUCATE THE TEAM
The first step is to be sure that everyone in the practice understands the risks of AMD and how ocular nutrition through supplementation can help. We have chosen to offer MacuHealth in our office because we believe in the benefits of the formula, and we want to make it easier for patients.
We utilize the team at MacuHealth to help with this education not only of the product but also how to present and explain the benefits to the patients.
The education is this:
Macuhealth is the only nutritional vision supplement containing all three macular carotenoids: lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin — in the same 10:10:2 ratio that makes up macular pigment. It is formulated and clinically proven to rebuild and maximize macular pigment over a lifetime, resulting in enhanced visual performance and aid in the treatment and prevention of AMD. The formula’s efficacy, bioavailability and safety have been demonstrated in more than 40 peer-reviewed publications.
DEVELOP YOUR PROTOCOL
The next step is to develop a protocol for when to begin discussions with patients. Because we now know that we can offer products that aid in the treatment and prevention of AMD, there’s no reason to wait until signs and symptoms, such as blurred or hazy vision, reduced contrast sensitivity or scotoma, start to appear.
In fact, we do begin the discussion about supplements with two key groups of younger patients.
First is those who are at risk – because of lifestyle or family history. But there’s a second group of people who want to maximize their visual performance in everyday life, especially if they are complaining of glare, difficulty with driving or other activities or difficulty with twilight vision.
Furthermore, Macuhealth protects against harmful blue light, and with our increased use of digital devices, it’s another factor in favor of starting at-risk patients early. Since MacuHealth has an excellent safety profile, it only makes sense to start supplementation early and keep healthy patients healthy for a lifetime.
LET PATIENTS START NOW
Many patients today know someone in their family or network who has developed AMD – and most patients want to avoid the anti-VEGF injections. So they are highly motivated when we discuss a simple and effective plan to minimize their risks. They want to start now, and they don’t want to have to visit a drug store or supermarket to scan the multiple options of vitamins available.
That’s why we like to have plenty of product on hand in our office. We have created an attractive savings offer for when patients purchase an annual supply.
As optometrists, we are already selling products in our practices – eyewear, contact lenses, solutions and more. Adding nutraceuticals is not complicated, especially not if you’ve reviewed the science and feel confident in your presentation. Patients appreciate the convenience and simplicity, and your practice gains another income stream that flows naturally from the exam room education.
We take our role as ocular health providers seriously and being able to help patients support and maintain their eye health and enhance their visual performance is part of that role. Why not get patients started on MacuHealth early?
See related story: Integrating AMD Awareness Into Your Practice
Dr. Jasper owns Advanced Eyecare Specialists in West Palm Beach, Florida, and is a frequent speaker on clinical and practice management topics.